At the beach in Koh Nang Yuan, Thailand

By Norbert Figueroa, an experienced architect, travel writer, long-term budget traveler, and photographer with over 13 years of travel experience in over 139 countries and counting. @globotreks

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With such a rich and long history, London needs no introduction. In fact, its monuments, attractions, and experiences could quickly fill your days with no effort required. 

But why stick to just London when there are so many varied and unique destinations only a train ride away? Well, eager traveler, if you’re on the hunt for some epic European cities to add to your next journey, look no further than Scotland.

Leave your flight preferences at the door. Heading to Scotland by train is a once-in-a-lifetime, memory-making trip you shouldn’t pass up. 

So get your train tickets ready. You’re going on an adventure.

Some Information About London Railway Stations

Hitching a ride on a train has been and continues to be a shared experience within the UK. So it should be no surprise that there are quite a few famous train stations, but these are the two you should know for your Scotland venture.  

Kings Cross Station in London

London Kings Cross Station

Before jumping into, or rather railing out to Scotland, you’ll need some info about London Kings Cross. Beyond being the most important terminus within the city, this is one of the starting points out of London for most rail operators to Scotland.

Situated within the borough of Camden, it sits on the rim of Central London and sees over 50 million commuters every year. With 12 platforms, numbered 0 to 11, the station has on average, 100 trains that depart to different Scottish destinations daily. 

Heading to Scotland, you can catch either a regional or direct train, as well as an overnight sleeper, with a variety of ticket booths at Kings Cross Station. That being said, your best bet is to book your train ticket online and well in advance.  

London Euston Station

Up next is the southern terminus of London Euston, located within Camden on Euston Road. This train station forms part of the West Coast Main Line, making it the gateway to various popular spots around the UK, including Scotland.

As the first official intercity station in the UK, it connected London directly to Birmingham in 1838. While it had humble beginnings, today, the station is one of the busiest in the country, with 16 platforms. 

Thanks to a few upgrades over the decades, the station now serves an estimated 44 million people annually. Considering its easy connection to the Scottish cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, this is a fantastic option for your next trip.  

Lastly, no matter from which station you choose to depart, I highly recommend buying your train tickets ahead of time via Trainline or Omio. Both sites are great for helping you find the cheapest tickets and routes for your trip.

Best London to Scotland Destinations

Okay, that’s enough about train stations for now. Time to get to why you’re actually here — which Scottish city (or cities) you should plan a train excursion to. 

Edinburgh, Scotland

London to Edinburgh

Setting up a Scotland train adventure is only possible by starting with the Scottish capital. 

Edinburgh is a compact, hilly city with awe-inspiring architecture, winding streets that seem never to end, and a captivating castle perched atop a dormant volcano. 

So, what are the juicy details you need to know? Besides being one of the shortest routes to undertake to Scotland (331 miles), your trip from London to Edinburgh is also exceptionally scenic. 

Taking full advantage of the East Coast Route, you’re treated to amazing visuals along the ride, thanks to highlights including Durham City and Newcastle. Whether departing from London Kings Cross or Euston, you’ll arrive at Edinburgh Waverley Station. 

Edinburgh Waverley Station sits in the middle of a steep valley between the city’s historic Old Town and the 18th-century New Town. Originally consisting of three separate railway stations, they were joined in 1854, and now its 18 platforms see about 30,000 passengers a day.

Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh

From the station you’ll have easy access to many of the city’s most spectacular attractions. Coming to mind first is Edinburgh Castle. You’ll instantly recognize it from Game of Thrones fame, but there’s much more to see around the terminus. 

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If you’re a lover of Scotch, the Scottish Whiskey Experience sits close by, offering tastings, food vendors, and souvenir shops. From here, take a short stroll to the Scott Monument, one of the largest of its kind dedicated to a writer. Cap off your day with a more general retail therapy session at the lively Victoria Street.

Recommended Tour: The city has fantastic things to do, but exploring Edinburgh Castle is an absolute must.

Train Companies from London to Edinburgh

Here’s a quick rundown of which railway operators you can choose for your trip to Edinburgh:

  • London North Eastern Railway (LNER): Average travel time of 4 hours and 16 minutes with single train tickets starting at $48.
  • Lumo: Average travel time of 4 hours and 31 minutes with single tickets starting at $44.
  • Caledonian Sleeper: Average travel time of 7 hours and 30 minutes, with tickets ranging from $42 to $303 depending on seat and cabin choice. 

Note: When deciding which of the Edinburgh trains is the right one for you, remember that certain lines head along the West Coast Route while others travel the East Coast Main Line.  

Glasgow Cathedral, Glasgow

London to Glasgow

Scotland’s official culture capital, the city of Glasgow, equals Edinburgh in allure, although this stunner is a worthwhile destination in its own right. As the largest city in Scotland, it’s also the fifth most-visited hotspot in the UK.

One of the best reasons to choose a Glasgow adventure from London is that it’s also a relatively short trip at just over 340 miles. Although it takes a slightly different route to the East Coast Route, you’re still in for mesmerizing views when the train crosses the border into Scotland.

An absolute standout, visually speaking, is part of the ride that heads through The Yorkshire Dales and The Lake District National Parks. The best bit? With rolling countryside views that bloom with yellow rapeseed flowers during spring and charms dusted with snow during the winter.

Depending on which railway company you choose, you’ll arrive at one of the two main stations in Glasgow.

Traveling with Avanti West Coast trains, you’ll depart from London Euston, arriving at Glasgow Central Train Station. You’ll leave Kings Cross with the North Eastern Railway and arrive at Glasgow Queen Street Station.

From both stations, it’s easy to reach many of the top attractions the city center offers. One of the most famous is the heartbeat of culture in Glasgow — The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

Then, of course, there’s the gorgeous Glasgow Cathedral, Necropolis, and the fascinating Glasgow Science Center. 

Recommended Tour: Why limit yourself to just a few attractions when hopping on a sightseeing bus tour is the perfect way to see them all?

Train Companies from London to Glasgow

So, which companies will get you from London Kings Cross Station to Glasgow? 

  • London North Eastern Railway (LNER): The average travel time to Glasgow Queen Street Station is 6 hours and 47 minutes, and single tickets cost about $43.
  • Avanti West Coast: The average travel time to Glasgow Central is 6 hours and 21 minutes, with single tickets for $42.
Urquhart Castle, Scotland

London to Aberdeen

If the sounds of magnificent granite architecture, stunning beaches, and a history stretching back thousands of years appeal to you, then heading to Aberdeen is a no-brainer. The third-largest urban area isn’t what you’d expect from a large city, and there lies the allure.

Although only about seven trains depart from London Kings Cross Station daily, the city is a popular spot for any European itinerary. Covering a distance of 397 miles, you have two options when tackling this train trip. Either head out during the day or consider an overnight sleeper.

Daytime travel to Aberdeen is a magical journey along the gorgeous coastal region that connects England to Scotland via the East Coast Line. A definite highlight of this option is the number of famous bridges, including the Tyne Bridge straddling the River Tyne, as you arrive in Newcastle. (You can check for things to do in Newcastle here.)

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Then you have other fantastic highlights, such as epic views of the North Sea, and upon sweeping into Berwick-upon-tweed, the Royal Border Bridge welcomes you to the north. Finally, you’ll arrive at the Aberdeen Railway Station — the busiest national terminus in northern Scotland.

But once in Aberdeen, what is there to do? The city is the perfect blend of old and new, with various unique things to indulge in close to the central station.

For golf lovers, there are close to 50 courses within walking distance from your arrival point, and for those with a taste for whiskey, numerous distilleries abound.

Slains Castle, Scotland

If you’ve got a secret obsession with spooky European castles, the nearby Slains Castle is the perfect spot to go. Especially if you’ve never been to a converted Gothic church bar. And then, finally, a trip to Aberdeen is only noteworthy if you venture to the historic and charming harbor and remember to watch out for dolphins.

Recommended Tour: Although spectacularly Scottish, some of the best day trips to tackle from Aberdeen are undeniably Loch Ness and the famous Scottish Highlands.

Train Companies from London to Aberdeen

Only one train operator services the route to Aberdeen, with several trains that leave London daily.

  • London North Eastern Railway (LNER): The typical journey duration from London to Aberdeen is 9 hours and 4 minutes. The fastest train service on this route takes about 7 hours and 4 minutes. Tickets cost $51 per person.  
Dundee, Scotland

London to Dundee

Sitting on the northern banks of the Firth of Tay along the North Sea Coast, the city of Dundee is a firm entry into your train travel experience in Scotland.

Formerly a port city, Dundee has become a hub for entertainment and culture, oh, and the gateway to other standout cities such as Fort William.

Following the same line that whisks you to Aberdeen, high speed trains operated by LNER depart from Kings Cross on the 360-mile journey.

Be sure to grab a window seat when buying your train tickets, as there are views galore. Leaving famous London behind, your ride includes iconic sights and stops.

Starting with your crossing of the Welwyn Viaduct on your way to Darlington, one of the standout sights is that of York Minster. After heading through Durham and Newcastle, this train journey also whizzes past the Royal Border Bridge and stops in Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Reaching your final destination, your high speed train will arrive at Dundee Railway Station, only a stone’s throw from the heart of the city.

Two of the most visit-worthy attractions from the station are the hi-tech V&A Waterfront and the showstopper in Dundee Old Town — St. Paul’s Cathedral and its 213-foot tower.

Recommended Tour: Known as the “City of Discovery,” explore the many highlights of Dundee on a self-guided audio tour.

Train Companies from London to Dundee

Only one operator manages all high speed trains that depart from Kings Cross heading for Dundee, with one exiting the train station every two hours.

  • London North Eastern Railway (LNER): You can expect an average travel duration of 5 hours and 53 minutes. Single tickets cost $53.
Isle of Skye, Scotland

London to Inverness

Easily one of the prettiest cities in the UK, the stunning metropolis of Inverness should feature high up on your travel bucket list. It’s the largest city in the Scottish Highlands and, thus, unsurprisingly, a masterclass of scenic and natural beauty.

Leaving London from either Kings Cross or Euston, you’ll pass through a number of suburbs and icons, such as London Bridge. However, if you choose to hop aboard a train from Kings Cross, a few train changes will be involved, as the only direct train lines to the city depart from Euston.

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Churning along the East Coast Line, covering 446 miles, the train crosses numerous quintessential Scottish cities, including the Scottish capital of Edinburgh. From here, you can choose to board other northern-bound regional trains that go through Stirling and past Perth.

Arriving at Inverness Train Station, you’re in the perfect central spot for some city exploration. Venture on foot to the Inverness city center, where local legends such as the Inverness Museum and the Victorian Market Street await.

But it wouldn’t be a highlands escapade without some natural attractions thrown in the mix. Luckily reaching the Inverness Botanic Gardens is just a cab ride away from the station and is the most idyllic escape into nature without leaving the city’s borders.

Recommended Tour: A premier example of the beauty of the Highlands, a visit to the Isle of Skye and Eilean Donan Castle is a must.

Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland

Essential Information for Your Train Journey to Scotland

Okay, you can tick off knowing the best Scottish destinations for your trip. So, time to find out the technical bits about choosing a train for your adventure and why it’s the best public transport option.

Train Operators from London Kings Cross 

The first significant train company that’ll get you to Scotland from here is the London North Eastern Railway Company. Secondly, you can choose to travel with Lumo, a relatively new operator opening for business in 2021. It solely services Edinburgh via the East Coast Main Line.  

Train Travel Operators from London Euston

When you choose to leave from London Euston Station heading to Scotland, you’ll head out using a direct train operated by Avanti West Coast. This is another terminal where you’ll depart if you decide to grab a spot on the Caledonian Sleeper.

Different Train Types for Your Trip

With various train companies offering routes to Scotland, these are the train types you can expect to grab a seat on:

  • High Speed Trains: Long gone are the days of steam trains reigning supreme for rail travel. All operators to Scotland offer high speed locomotives that have the advantage of cutting your trip time. They are incredibly popular, so buy train tickets ahead of time.
  • Caledonian Sleeper: For those of you looking for a more laid back trip as opposed to a high speed train option, the overnight sleeper service offered by Caledonian Sleeper is perfect. With features such as twin bunk beds and cabins with a double bed, it’s a unique take on traveling.
  • Steam Trains: While only two of these old-school gems still operate today, if you want a true train experience, they’re ideal. The first is the Flying Scotsman which only runs between London and Edinburgh. The other is the Jacobite Train, famously known as the Harry Potter Train from Fort William to Mallaig.
The Jacobite Steam Train on the Viaduct | Scotland

Train Ticket Classes & Amenities

Depending on whether you choose to save money and opt for cheap fares or splurge on a first class ticket, here are some of the general amenities you will have:

  • Getting cheap train tickets On LNER, Avanti West Coast, and Lumo trains, you can expect ample legroom, complimentary WiFi, and a cafe (or bar) car selling snacks and hot and cold drinks.
  • However, grabbing a first class ticket affords you certain benefits, such as complimentary food and access to the onboard first class lounge.

You can check the current ticket prices at Trainline and Omio.

Ben Nevis Mountain in Scotland

Which Scottish Destination Will You Choose from London?

Well, there you have it. Everything worth knowing about your next train journey to Scotland. So whether you’re heading from London to Edinburgh or venturing to Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, or Inverness, you’re in for a memorable time.

Now all that’s left to do is hop on the best, first, or last train out of London, pick your destination, and enjoy.

One last thing, don’t let your budget break your Scottish aspirations. Check out this guide on figuring out how much your trip will cost.

A Perfect London to Scotland Train Experience Guide
Adventure Awaits


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